It was bound to happen. Yesterday’s reference to choosing one’s own funeral music has led to lengthier discussions.
I was comforted to discover I’m not the only healthy person to put a little thought into this. I view my funeral as one last opportunity to amuse my friends and still end the conversation with the last word.
My father said long ago that when he goes, he wants “Abide With Me” played on a bad cello with canaries singing in the background. One last joke.
My mother—in comments to yesterday’s post—shared her funeral program plans du jour, which include both a Requiem and a Bruce Springsteen ballad.
In a chat with friends yesterday, one said she had her whole service planned. Another said she’d leave the details to her mourners, while preferring to focus on the wake.
Recently, while giving you my impressions of the final scene of Les Misérables, I shared that I’d be adding “Finale” to my funeral program. “Finale” isn’t just the reference to the musical’s closing number, but (spoiler alert) a commentary on the death experience.
I’ll say, I do have a few hymns picked out. Some come and go, but two definites remain, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” and “There’s Wideness in God’s Mercy,” but I don’t want the traditional version of the latter. The one I want is a different melody altogether. For the record, it’s #469 in the Episcopal Hymnal, not the more popular #470. Are we clear on that?
I’d like to avoid what happened at my mother-in-law’s funeral. As she was near the end of her life, she requested specifically that “How Great Thou Art” not be played. She hated that hymn. Guess what the organist played as the final hymn of the service? Personally, I love “How Great Thou Art.” A little overdone on the funeral circuit, but moving nonetheless.
Don’t hate me, but I’m not a fan of “Amazing Grace,” so let’s skip that one and leave more time to get to the potato salad.
Now, on to the after party. Some of the popular music I’ve chosen includes The Beatles’ “Let it Be,” Jackson Browne’s “Rock Me on the Water,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” and now, “Finale” from Les Miz. There are many others that come and go from the hopper.
We make these selections as if we have any control but truly, we are at the mercy of our loved ones, who may have a different agenda.
I remember a time when my son, who was seven or eight at the time, was really angry at me. He searched for the most hurtful thing he could think of to say, which was: “When you die, I’m gonna get up and sing ‘Go Go Power Rangers’ at your funeral!”
It still makes me laugh to imagine him as a middle-aged man in a suit and tie, standing at the church lectern and singing this thumping cartoon theme song to his mother. He will, after all, have the final say.
Your turn. What’s in your final playlist? Anyone have “Dust in the Wind?” “Last Train to Clarksville?”